Hartwick College leader faces no-confidence vote from faculty

Drugovich

Forty one of the 75 Hartwick College faculty members present Monday entered a vote of no-confidence regarding the leadership of President Margaret Drugovich, according to college officials.

According to a faculty source, the vote was 42-24, with 10 abstentions. The college has a total faculty of 111, according to David Lubell, the school's media relations manager.

In response, Francis D. Landrey, chair of Hartwick's board of trustees, sent out a letter to the college community late Monday afternoon dismissing the vote and emphasizing that the board has “complete confidence” in Drugovich.

“The faculty's vote is unwarranted and serves only to harm the College,” Landrey wrote. “Put quite simply, President Drugovich's leadership over the more than seven years of her presidency is cause for celebration and warrants our deep gratitude ... The Board fully supports the difficult choices the administration has had to make. She is completely undeserving of this Faculty vote.”

This is the second time professors from the college have spoken out against Drugovich. Over the summer, 46 members of the faculty signed a letter of censure expressing strong disapproval after Drugovich suddenly announced the elimination of 18 of the college's non-faculty positions, which sparked a firestorm on campus. Landrey responded that Drugovich had the board's “unconditional support.”

In an email sent Monday to The Daily Star, Drugovich said she appreciates the "unwavering support of the Hartwick Board of Trustees and many members of our community."

"Higher education is evolving across the country, as it is at Hartwick," she wrote. "We have worked hard to tackle difficult issues and we are making difficult decisions. Of one thing I remain certain: our shared goal is to provide the best experience enhanced liberal arts education possible for our students."

​In Landrey's letter to the college community Monday, he wrote that the board of trustees is “fully aware” of the faculty's concerns and “has agreed to regular meetings with the duly appointed representatives of the Faculty to ensure continued open and productive dialogue on the challenges that Hartwick faces.”

He continued, saying “most unsettling about the faculty's vote is that it fails to account for all that President Drugovich has achieved for Hartwick” and that “her accomplishments are numerous.”

Landrey went on to say that Drugovich has “dramatically improved the college's fiscal stability and financial soundness;” has “instituted an academic program review necessary to match Hartwick's academic offerings to the needs of its students;” and has “relentlessly pursued policies designed to maintain Hartwick's core values in integrating a liberal arts education with experiential learning.”

“She sees and acts on opportunities that benefit Hartwick and its students, such as the Center for Craft Food and Beverage,” Landrey wrote. “Early in her administration President Drugovich worked with all constituencies to define the College's mission. Every action she has taken since has been taken with this mission statement in mind.”

The college had no further comment, according to Lubell.

Voicemails and email messages left for Dr. Jeremy Wisnewski, a Hartwick professor and president of the Hartwick College chapter of American Association of University Professors, were not returned by Monday night.

However, Jeanne-Marie E. Havener, chair of the school's nursing department, called The Daily Star on Monday night to say that "not everyone at the college disapproves of the president's leadership."

"I was saddened today to see what happened, and I hope the public will understand that not everyone feels that way," Havener said. "I've been here 20 years and I've been through three presidents during that time. I've had to work a lot with administration to get the resources we need to run a sound program. And while the administration and I have agreed to disagree on some things, the provost and president have been very solid leaders. They have listened to me. You can't, in any environment, get everything you want all of the time. Hartwick is a good place. Every community has its struggles."

Diane Paige, chair of Hartwick's music department, also called The Daily Star on Monday night. She has worked at the college for 16 years, she said.

"In a climate where higher education is changing, we've got a president who's working hard to position us so that we are sustainable into the future, and that's not an easy job to do," Paige said. "I support Margaret's presidency. Something like what happened today just isn't going to move us forward."

(Additional content was added to the original story.)